There have been two interesting domain name disputes in two days, dealing with the same mark, resulting in the same manner, but for different reasons. IN the wacky world of domain name and trademark ownership, one can never really guess as to the facts and arguments presented by parties involved in disputes. In the first case, Mt. Vernon Mills, Inc. v. River City Holdings, LLC FA1325209 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 30, 2010) a single member Panel was faced with a dispute over the domain www.textraw.com. The Panel made the following relevant factual findings.
On September 8, 2006 Complainant purchased assets from the Georgia, USA corporation Textraw, Inc. which included the trademark registration for a trademark TEXTRAW which had been registered with the USPTO under number 2,710,148 on April 22, 2003. On November 28, 2009 the TEXTRAW trademark was cancelled. Complainant had no registered TEXTRAW trademark at the date of filing its complaint. In March 2009 Respondent obtained the domain name <textraw.com> through Complainant. Respondent makes no active use of the domain name.
Paragraph 4(a) of the ICANN UDRP Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred: (1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; (2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
In light of the findings the Panel reviewed the first element and found that Complainant did not have adequate common law rights, since they failed to present evidence of adequate sales, advertising etc. or show that the mark has secondary meaning. By failing to satisfy the first element, the decision was essentially done, but the Panel chose to review the remainder of the elements. Ultimately the Panel DENIED the request for transfer.
In the second domain name dispute, Mt. Vernon Mills, Inc. v. River City Holdings FA1325214 (Nat. Arb. Forum, July 1, 2010) a single member Panel also DENIED a request for transfer regarding two domains, www.textraw.net and www.textraw.org. The Panel noted that the parties entered into an agreement on March 16, 2009 which expired on March 15, 2010. The Domain Names were registered by Respondent during the course of that agreement. Complaint had filed a Notice of Opposition to Respondent’s application for federal trademark rights in TEXTRAW. A search of the USPTO records shows that on December 3, 2009 two applications were filed for TEXTRAW (Ser. No. 77885495 and 77885343) by a company named Synco Turf, LLC. The Panel also noted that Complaint has filed other court proceedings related to the ownership and the trademark in Court of Common Pleas, Greenville County, South Carolina, C.A. No. 2010-CP-23-4101.
In light of the court case and the TTAB case, the Panel explained that those proceedings will be critical to the outcome of this UDRP decision. As a result the Panel DENIED the relief requested by Complainant, without prejudice and may seek to refile a Complaint after the other proceedings are finished.